Behavior issues are very common in dogs and cats. They account for a very large number of give ups and banishments to the outdoors, etc. Some behavior issues that pets have are not considered issues by the owners. There are several techniques for modifying behavior, including negative and positive reinforcement, and also no reinforcement, which is often the optimal method.
We are using a dog named Peta as an example. Peta used to have a lot of bad habits, and we have managed to change a lot of his habits through the use of all the various retraining techniques, positive, negative and null. His positive techniques have included rewards for doing the right thing, like sitting, staying, etc. His negative technique was a training collar that gave him a small electrical shock when he barked. Another negative technique was kneeing him in the chest when he jumped up on us.
This has not been as successful because some people continue to reward him for jumping up. The null technique worked well when getting home from work to stop the extremely dominant attention getting behavior. It also worked to some extent for the inappropriate licklick dog behavior.
Another tool that works very well for training some dogs with acute behavior issues is the gentle leader collar. It was developed by professors I had in veterinary college named R.K Anderson (he just recently died) and Ruth Foster.
Why is a Gentle Leader the best choice? Here are just of few of the reasons why…
…an extremely common problem that spans all breeds, ages, and activity levels and leaves both owners and dogs frustrated.
Controls unwanted behaviors
…general aggression and dog-on-dog aggressive behavior, anxiety issues, and a wide range of compulsive disorders.
Fully adjustable…both neck strap and nose loop can be adjusted independently to create a custom fit.
…most dogs acclimate within minutes and respond very quickly.
How does a Gentle Leader compare to other halter-like products?
Simply stated it’s recommended most often by leading vets and trainers.
…the Gentle Leader allows owners to communicate with their pet in a way that dogs instinctively understand. The nose loop encircles the dog’s muzzle and applies light pressure in the same manner in which lead dogs naturally communicate with dogs lower in rank. Because of the placement of the nose loop, the dog immediately understands its place in the hierarchy and recognizes the owner as the leader.
Can be custom fit
…the Gentle Leader is the only headcollar with a fully adjustable nose loop. Once fitted properly, dogs can wear a Gentle Leader for up to 3x longer than other head halters…as long as 16 hours…and cannot paw it off.
…the Gentle Leader can be used effectively to control unwanted behaviors ranging from leash pulling and lunging to barking, jumping, chasing, digging and begging; doesn’t need safety straps or double-leashing; and can quickly convert to a regular collar.
…the Gentle Leader can be purchased in any of 9 colors.
…the Gentle Leader kit comes with easy-to-follow fitting instructions, simplified training materials and a more elaborate, multi-media training DVD
Here is a summary from the FAQ page as well:
How does a Gentle Leader® Headcollar work?
The principle behind the Gentle Leader Headcollar is one that allows owners to communicate with their pet in a way that dogs instinctively understand. The nose loop encircles the dog’s muzzle and applies light pressure in the same manner in which the lead dogs naturally communicate with dogs lower in rank. Because of the placement of the nose loop, the dog immediately understands his/her place in the hierarchy. The dog considers the owner his/her leader.
What does the Headcollar look like?
The collar has two soft nylon straps – the neck strap portion fits high and snugly at the back of the neck above the windpipe and the other portion loops loosely around the nose behind the corners of the mouth. When fitted properly, a dog is free to open his/her mouth to eat, drink, pant, fetch and bark – except when one closes his/her mouth by gently applying pressure to the leash.
What are the advantages of a Gentle Leader Headcollar?
Advantages for people
Eliminates pulling on the leash
. With the Gentle Leader Headcollar…steer the dog’s nose and the body will follow. It’s virtually impossible for a dog to drag its handler down the street when his/her head is turned. The GL Headcollar operates on the same principles as a halter for a horse. Knowledgeable horse owners use halters to control the most unruly horse by steering its head. Throwing a rope around a horse’s neck doesn’t offer the necessary control.
Offers control for all people, no matter the size
. A dog handler only has to compete with the strength of a dog’s neck and head not all of the power packed in the body. Thus, theHeadcollar is a great size, age and gender equalizer.
Unlike the choke chain or prong collars, the Gentle Leader Headcollar is safe to use on puppies as young as 8 weeks old
. There is very little pressure applied to the dog’s muzzle and no pressure on the throat.
. The Headcollar can be sized to fit all dogs with an adjustable nose loop. And, people have the option to convert the Headcollar to a regular collar if desired.
Eliminates uncomfortable pressure on the throat
. The Gentle Leader Headcollar is a positive, no-pain option for controlling a dog.
Because of the placement of the collar, the dog understands his/her place in the hierarchy
. The dog considers the owner the leader.
All dogs have a natural “opposition reflex” – if you push against them; they push back. Any collar that puts pressure at the front of the throat actually works against the owner by increasing the dog’s instinct to pull forward. Not only do these products not solve the pulling problem, they can cause choking and pain for the dogs. The Gentle Leader removes a dog’s instinct to pull forward by eliminating pressure from the throat area.
Not a muzzle…when fitted properly a dog can open its mouth to eat, drink, pant, fetch, and bark.
Can be used with dogs eight (8) weeks of age or older.